Director, Murray Thornhill, and Lawyer, Kimberly Jones, in our Commercial, Employment, and Dispute Resolution team have outlined the changes to the Western Australian industrial relations system that came into effect on 20 June 2022
A reminder of changes to WA state employment laws
Changes to the Western Australian industrial relations system come into effect on 20 June 2022. The Industrial Relations Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (IRLA Act) (passed 16 December 2021) amends the following acts:
- Industrial Relations Act 1979 (IR Act);
- Long Service Leave Act 1958;
- Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993; and
- Public and Bank Holidays Act
Does this apply to you?
This article focuses on changes to the IR Act. These apply to employment relationships under the WA State industrial relationship system, which, generally, includes:
- sole traders;
- unincorporated partnerships;
- unincorporated trust arrangements;
- incorporated associations that are not trading or financial corporations; and
- other not-for-profit organisations that are not trading or financial corporations.
Knowing the system that covers employees in your organisation is critical (and not always a simple exercise) as this will determine your employee's rights. You can find out more information about whether you are a state system employee here, or by seeking legal advice.
What has changed?
The IR Act was amended to:
- expand the definition of 'employee', which now covers domestic employees;
- expand the definition of 'employer', which now includes foreign states and consulates;
- allow local governments to opt out of the national fair work system;
- increase the power of the WA Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC) to vary private sector awards;
- extend the WAIRC's jurisdiction to include powers to;
- stop bullying and sexual harassment;
- and address equal renumeration;
- increase employee protections, including prohibiting 'damaging actions' against an employee because an employee is able to make an employment-related inquiry or complaint;
- increase record keeping requirements (including the requirement for all employers to issue pay slips);
- increase the powers of industrial inspectors to address non-compliance with the IR Act;
- toughen enforcement mechanisms; and
- increase penalties for non-compliance with the IR Act.
The above list addresses the main changes to the IR Act only.
What should I do?
As with any changes in laws that apply to your business, knowledge is key. You can find more detailed information on these changes (and changes to the other legislation) here.
If you are covered by the WA State system, we also recommend subscribing to the WA Wageline newsletter, to keep up to date with current news and for more information on the abovementioned changes.
If you are concerned about any of these changes, seek legal advice at your earliest opportunity.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.